I have failed my spouse in and before marriage. After nearly a decade, my spouse still hasn't forgiven me. What can I do to regain trust and heal our marriage?
By Justin and Megan Dungan
We both understand from personal experience that there are two hurting individuals in a scenario like this: the offender and the offended. We have a heart for both sides. However, since this question is written from the perspective of the offender, we will focus on that for our response.
Shame and guilt likely has found its way into your head from time to time, if not consistently, over the last decade. First, we feel that it’s important to try to understand and appreciate the weight of your offense on your spouse. This doesn’t mean walking around with your head low in constant shame, but rather understanding that decisions we make have consequences. No matter how big or small the offense, there is always a consequence. To accept that consequence is important, and it likely means that you have walked/will walk through very challenging times as a couple. This period of dryness may be brief, or it may be extended, and accepting that unknown variable is very hard to swallow.
Part of appreciating the offense from the perspective of your spouse includes understanding their ‘triggers’ for the event. Your spouse likely has developed insecurities around this event, some of which may not even be known to them, and these insecurities can come to the surface when a trigger hits them. Triggers for your spouse may include your staying at work late, going out of town for work, going out with certain friends, a random line in a movie or TV show, among many others. Can you begin looking ahead and minimizing these triggers so they are not as hurtful for your spouse? Can you begin putting some distance between you and the group of friends that act as a trigger for your spouse? Can you begin going to work-related conferences with an accountable friend? Should you stop exposing yourself to movies that include adultery? Should you stop using certain social media channels? Should you install filtering software on your computer? Try to appreciate the triggers that your spouse has and treat them the way you would like to be treated.
Put up some boundaries. These boundaries may be needed for the rest of your marriage, the rest of the year, or just a few months. And again you have to be okay with that. Even if you don’t fully understand or agree with your spouse's triggers, showing them grace and understanding in this area and loving them through the pain goes a long way in their healing process. Let us say, however, that in no way should you accept abuse, verbal or physical, from your spouse. You should never feel that you ‘deserve’ this type of behavior. If you find yourself in that situation, it is imperative that you separate yourself (and children) from that environment now. This doesn’t mean you are giving up, you are simply protecting yourself and your children and you can continue to work on your marriage from that environment, with the assistance of professional counseling.
More importantly, however, completely embrace the individual you are in Christ. And that starts with knowing and understanding what you have been forgiven from. We have a saying at Journey that we repeat often in our house: “It’s okay to be messed up here, but it’s not okay to stay that way." This reflects the truth that we are all broken and have been forgiven, but also recognizes that we have a decision to make. Are we going to continue behavior that Christ warns is detrimental to us, our family, etc. or are we going to accept forgiveness from our heavenly Father, turn from our behavior, and lead the life we were called to lead?
Assuming you have taken the latter position, we would encourage you to hold fast to Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We love the words ‘hope’ and ‘future’ in that text. While we are in dry spots in our marriage, we can feel that we are wasting time, almost running in circles. However, this Scripture promises that He has a plan, and He has a future for us. We have also found from personal experience that He can bring us through extensive healing in a very short amount of time, essentially making up any ‘lost’ time that we thought might have been gone forever.
It’s a very hard journey that you have traveled and continue to travel. We commend you for seeking ways to help your spouse heal and grow through this process.
What would your advice be to a woman who desperately desires for her husband to be the spiritual leader of her home when he shows little to no interest in spiritual leadership?
By Hart Deal
I can hear the pain and concern in the desperate words of this question; you have such a strong desire for your husband to fill the role of spiritual leader in your home. The good news is that this is what Christ wants for you as well!
I believe that Psalm 37:4 speaks to you, wife: "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart."
As you focus on your relationship with Christ, He promises to give you the desires of your heart, which, in this case, is to have your husband function as a spiritual leader. I would challenge you to claim this promise in your life daily and to find someone who could pray with you as you wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to bring this to pass in the life of your husband.
This Scripture does not give a timeframe for the promise to be fulfilled. Hannah prayed faithfully to God for a child and Samuel was the answer to that prayer. Abraham and Sarah knew that God had promised to make a great nation from them, yet it was many years before Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac in their old age. You are not in control of your husband's response so, when you cannot change the situation, you must ask for God to continue to give you the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control - Gal. 5:22) as you continue to love him just the way he is, the way Christ loves us.
You cannot control your husband's role, but you can control your focus on Christ and your daily seeking to love and enjoy Him. Realize that it is possible that your husband does not really know Christ...so pray for his salvation. One of our dear friends came to Christ after a life of going to church and even teaching. He is an amazing husband and father--his wife was always praying in the background.
This is not anything that you can force. Psalm 37:5 says "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and HE WILL DO IT." (caps are mine) The pressure is off of you. It's up to God.
There was no mention in this question about children in this family. If there are children, talk to your husband and confirm that he is willing for you to minister to them spiritually. Read to them, pray with them and for them. Provide opportunities for them to participate in worship and training. Participate in activities that bring glory to God and always include your husband in these times. If he is not interested, take part without him but always let him know that you would love for him to join you. Speak with your husband about joining an MC group at Journey Church. If he is not interested, ask him if he is ok if you go without him.
I Peter 3:1 says, "In the same way you wives be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives." Be hopeful and love your husband well.
Jeremiah 29:11 gives you some great words of hope. "I know what I'm doing - I have it all planned out, plans to take care of you and not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (from The Message)
I don't know your name, but I am praying alongside you even now for your husband. I know in my own life many times, as I have prayed for another person, I realized that it was as much about what God wanted to do in my own heart as it was about he wanted to do in the life of another. I am thanking God in advance for how He is going to work.
Top 10 Leadership Commandments – Journey Church
1. Your number one responsibility is to grow in your relationship with God daily. Church leaders have fallen for a number of reasons but the common systemic issue in each case is a failing walk with God. A myriad of problems may be avoided when team members are walking closely with Jesus.
2. Don’t be late, be early. When your are late to a meeting it tells the person you are meeting with, they are not as important as whatever you were doing before.
3. Don’t use email, text messaging, or voicemail to deliver sensitive information. What you intend to say will likely be misconstrued because the receiver cannot read your tone, inflection, and body language. Meet face-to-face or by phone when delivering sensitive information.
4. Return all communication sent to you in 24 hours. You assign value to others when you respond to them in a timely manner. To ensure that our team works properly, we must understand that we can easily be the holdup of our teammates progress when we don’t promptly respond to them.
5. There is no excuse for being unorganized. Part of being a high capacity leader requires each of us to balance a weighty schedule. You will not succeed if you are not organized.
6. You represent more than yourself in every public arena, including your online profile. Understand that everything you put out publically is a reflection of Christ and a reflection of our church. Don’t complain, gossip, vent, or trash others on your online forums. Be above reproach in everything you communicate publically. You represent much more than just YOU.
7. You build trust when you make good on your commitments, you lose trust when you don’t. When you communicate to someone that you will be somewhere, assist with something, or accomplish some task – make good on your commitment. If you find you cannot fulfill an obligation, don’t just not show up—communicate early and apologize to the person whom you are breaking a commitment to.
8. Public loyalty results in private leverage. It is important that we function as a unit and our church body has confidence in our unity. Being publically loyal to the team allows for you to have the credibility to challenge any team objective privately.
9. Make other people’s passions better. You work on a team with shared goals. Ask the question, “How can I help my teammates be successful?”
10. It takes a village to raise ministry kids. Our kids are under a great deal more stress than other children. Make it your responsibility to encourage, cherish, and champion other staff members’ children. We want them to love the church when they leave our homes.
After nearly a full year of work, we are excited to announce that this Spring (Hopefully Easter), Journey Church will launch its Goose Creek Campus! For those of you familiar with Goose Creek, the location will be easily recognizable. As shown in the picture to the left, the Goose Creek home will accommodate 200+ attenders w/ 5 Journey Kids rooms, 100 parking spaces, and a comfortable worship center.
If all goes as planned, on Easter, April 5, 2015 we will begin to offer a 10:00am worship service at this location in Goose Creek. Our Team is working hard to ensure the same quality worship experience you have come to expect at our Ladson/Treeland location will also be the exact same experience you will have at Goose Creek. This will be a LIVE PREACHING service, meaning the preacher for that Sunday will preach at all four worship services (9am, 10am at Goose Creek, 11am & 5pm).
Its time for us to all step back up to the plate! Will Oswald, our Campus Pastor, is re-gathering the Goose Creek team back together to ready the team for a Spring launch. Three priorities are before us: 1.) Getting team leaders and volunteers ready for the launch, 2.) Getting the building ready for use, & 3.) continuing to raise support for the 2020 Vision to ensure this campus is launched with the same atmosphere you have come to love about Journey Church.
So, jump on board, join the team, and spread the word.
A couple months ago, my daughter and I went on a Daddy Date to the movies. I can't remember the movie we saw but I sure remember a preview from that night. After the preview our eyes met and we both said to each other, "That looks awesome!" It was a preview for the new Unbroken movie in theaters, December 2014.
Interested in the storyline behind this screenplay, I picked up the book and began reading the story of Louie Zamperini. I had no previous knowledge of his story. The fact that I was enjoying the book so much made anticipation for the movie even more appealing. A friend of mine, Russell, built even more intrigue when he said, "Will, you are going to love the ending of that book!"
That comment motivated me to put my head down and finish Zamperini's story. For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, here is a brief summary: imagine a story of a troubled boy who unexpectedly became an Olympic athlete. He joins the Army Bombarders in WWII only to have his plane crash into the Pacific Ocean where he and two other men were stranded for 47 days on a life-raft. They were rescued, not by Americans but by the Japanese. They were taken to prison of war camps where they were tortured relentlessly.
Angelina Jolee's screenplay ends with his rescue from the camps and his subsequent return to America and a disappointing handful of sentences are given for the rest of his story. What movie-goers didn't experience was, for me, the most compelling storyline of Zamperini's life.
Louie did something that most men would never have the fortitude to do. He returned to Japan, sought out his captors, who beat, belitted, and tortured him. Redemption, not revenge, was the purpose of Zamperini's return.
You see once returning to America after his initial imprisonment, Louie married. Post-Tramatice Stress Disorder affected him severely. One night he recalls waking from a nightmare, strangling his wife. She decided to divorce Louie but fate intervened. His wife went to a Billy Graham crusade and returned to her husband at told him, "If you want to save this marriage, you will come with me tonight." During those nights underneath a revival tent Louie surrendered his life to Jesus. This decision is what brought Zamperini back to Japan.
Restoration was what drove Louie's return to Japan to face his captors. Redemption would draw enemies to look one another in the eyes and seek forgiveness for their horrors.
I want you to hear the rest of the story from Zamperini himself. Give a few minutes to hear his testimonial . . .
At our Journey Church Staff Christmas Party we all went around the table and answered the question, “What’s your family’s Christmas tradition?” I got the best idea from this conversation (All creative credit goes to the Deal Family).
Now that I have teenagers, some of the “present opening mystic” associated with Christmas morning has begun wane. In hopes to spice things up a bit Tarah and I put together a Treasure Hunt for Browning Christmas 2014.
Once the kids went to bed, we cleared out all the presents from under the tree, leaving an absolutely bare tree-base. Then we took all of the kids’ gifts and hid them in discrete places in and around our house (Piper’s in the trunk of a car, Jedidiah in a closet, and Ethan in our neighbors house). Then we made riddles that led the kids to their presents. We placed the riddles in envelopes and hung them from the tree.
On Christmas morning, Ethan was the first down the stairs. He made his way alone to a giftless tree and said, “They gave our gifts to needy kids; this is going to be a sad Christmas.” Ethan told us later, “I went back downstairs three times to confirm what I saw.”
When Piper awoke she noticed the envelopes and hope remained. Tarah and I were retrieved once Jedidah woke up and the treasure hunt began! Piper quickly solved her riddle, Ethan solved Jed’s for him, and they were all stumped for a minute with Ethan’s riddle.
It was all pretty fun and made for a memorable Christmas. We finished the day with some of our more established traditions: eating pancakes & bacon, seeing a movie, and having Chinese Food for dinner.
Here’s to Christmas 2014!
Church Planter. Pastor to pastors. Husband. Father. Reader.